Wednesday, 12 August 2009

DIY and all that stuff

Many years ago we had an extension built onto the kitchen. For some reason I am not now able to remember, the ceiling in the extension is lower than in the rest of the kitchen, with the result that the two wall cabinets we have in that part are fitted pretty well flush to the ceiling. When the extension was finished, we were left with a ceiling of plain plasterboard panels on which we fixed polystyrene ceiling tiles to match those we had in the old part.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one of the cabinet doors was scraping against the ceiling. The tiles were parting company from the plasterboard, the adhesive having given way. There were four tiles involved and the droop was at the centre where the four tiles abutted. No problem, I thought naively. All I have to do is to cut through the grout I put in the joins, ease the tiles down a little and apply some more adhesive.


I duly started to cut through the grout, at which point the tiles started drooping even further. Cut a little more, and one tile almost fell off the ceiling. While I was standing back looking and wondering, it did fall down. At least, part of it did. Some spots along one edge remained steadfastly stuck to the ceiling, while the rest of the tile lay on the floor. The second tile soon joined it and this, too, left bits behind.

I had already bought adhesive in a squirty tube-type thingy a bit like an enormous toothpaste tune, so I applied a generous helping onto the two tiles remaining in close proximity to the ceiling by pointing the end of the tube into the gap between tile and ceiling. I gently pressed the tiles back into place. One held, the other didn't.

I made another trip to the DIY store to buy some different adhesive and to check whether they still sold similar tiles. The 'old' tiles were bought so long ago that they are in an imperial size and I fully expected that any tiles stocked now would be metric, which would mean that I would have to remove all the old tiles and start again. I dreaded having to do that as it meant I would have to take down the strip light fitting and the two wall cupboards. As it happened, they didn't have any polystyrene ceiling tiles, imperial or metric.

With the new adhesive to hand, I found a wallpaper scraper and used that to coat the back of the droopy tile, pressed it into place and, for good measure, hammered in a panel pin. Twenty-four hours later, it was still in place, so I decided to try my luck with the two tiles that had broken. They are now on the ceiling, held there by glue and panel pins, and once they have had a chance to settle I'll put some more grout in the join.

Then I'll repaint the ceiling in an attempt to hide the joins where the tiles broke.

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